I was delighted this week to see that twin exhibits at the Pinacotheque de Paris were in prolongation (prolongahseeohn), in other words, the show was held-over to a later date. The four-year-old art museum of the city of Paris has a fine permanent collection and regularly hosts worthwhile temporary exhibits. Two complimentary exhibits, L’Ermitage, la naissance d’un musée Imperial: Les Romanov, tsars collectionneurs (The Hermitage, the birth of an Imperial museum: The Romanovs, Collector Tsars) and La naissance d’un musée: Les Esterházy, princes collectionneurs (The birth of a museum: The Esterházy’s, Collector Princes), were supposed to close on May 29, but have been extended until September 15, 2011. (The word “prologation” also pops up in sports when a match goes into overtime.) The separate but related exhibits both trace the development of significant art collections over multiple generations. You can buy separate tickets or a billet jumelé (twin ticket) that allows access to both exhibits.
I was struck by the centrality of Paris to collectors both in Russia and Hungary. A trip to St Petersburg is on my life-list, but until then, I got to see 100 of its masterpieces collected in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Esterházy’s were nobles at the pinnacle of Hungarian society. Their personal collection of works by European masters, including a lovely Raphaël Madonna, became the backbone of the Fine Art Museum of Budapest when financial difficulties forced them to sell. Fifty of the 1,156 paintings that they collected are on display. The Pinacothèque may be the new kid on the Paris museum scene, but exhibits like this one make it a “must see musée.”